Canadian Consulting Engineer

New guideline says fees should not be deciding factor in selecting consulting firms

July 5, 2006
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

InfraGuide has published a new guideline that promotes selecting a professional consultant on the bases of the firm...

InfraGuide has published a new guideline that promotes selecting a professional consultant on the bases of the firm’s qualifications and experience rather than on price. The new document will help consultants to persuade clients that hiring consultants just based on who will charge the lowest fee is not the best idea. Published on July 4, the document is entitled “Selecting a Professional Consultant.”
The InfraGuide program, otherwise known as the National Guide to Sustainable Infrastructure, involves both a national network of experts and a growing collection of published best practice documents for use by municipalities and technical people in the public and private sectors.
InfraGuide was founded by the Canadian Public Works Association, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Infrastructure Canada and the National Research Council.
The guide on selecting consultants is being welcomed by the Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada. Though the association provided half the funding for the project, the guideline was formulated and written by an independent panel of experts that included only one consulting engineer. The panel’s findings therefore have all the more weight as they are from a non-partisan and independent group.The new guide says that long-term savings can be gained from considering high-quality engineering services that add value in the form of innovation, sustainability and life cycle analysis. It says these savings are far more significant than short-term savings provided by the lowest-price design. Engineering fees are generally only 1-2% of the total life-cycle cost of a project, yet if this 1-2% is wisely invested on design, municipalities can save significantly on construction, operation and maintenance costs, which make up the remaining 98-99% of the life-cycle costs.
“The consultant’s ability to devise the most appropriate solution depends on expertise, training and, most importantly, experience.” said Pete Steblin, General Manager of Environmental & Engineering Services for the City of London in a press release announcing the document’s publication. “Selecting the right team based on qualification not lowest price ultimately provides the best value and the best return on investment.” The City of London already selects engineering consultants using a process consistent with the best practice.
The guideline will be available at or for more information call toll-free: 1-866-330-3350.


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